Detection of Transplant Rejection Using Methylation Sequences of Plasma DNA

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Researchers from China were able to detect liver cancer and lymphoma in cancer patients, genetic abnormalities from the placenta in pregnant women, and donor DNA in post-transplant patients by analyzing the methylation sequence in plasma DNA. Using known tissue methylation profiles, they were able to identify the tissue origins of circulating DNA, making this a robust tool for screening, cancer detection, and therapy monitoring. This collaborative effort by researchers from several institutions is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

3 disease groups were studied, the second group involved people who had received a transplant. Development of graft-versus-host disease is a common problem in allogeneic transplants. Donor DNA has been found in transplant patient’s blood plasma. Four liver transplant recipients and three bone marrow transplant recipients’ plasma DNA were analyzed and compared to donor SNP alleles in the case of the liver patients, and white blood cells in the case of the bone marrow patients. They were able to detect donor DNA, and found a strong correlation between the results from analyzing the methylation pattern and looking at SNP alleles or white blood cells.

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